The Kodak ESP C310 All-in-One Printer (print/scan/copy) is one of the better bargains in the US$100 (as of June 7, 2011) price range of color inkjet multifunctions. The primary reason is its ink pricing, which is much lower than what you’ll find for similar models such as the Dell V313w and Epson Stylus NX420. The friendly, though basic, overall design is another plus.
The installation procedures for both PC and Mac are models of efficiency, though as usual you must add the printer manually on the Mac. The Kodak Home Center software is attractive, competent, and easy to use. It also has a couple of neat tricks up its sleeve: direct photo printing from your iOS or Android device, and the unique-to-Kodak ability to create 3D-look photos. Kodak even provides a set of cardboard 3D spectacles for viewing the images.
The ESP C310’s control panel is straightforward. The 1.5-inch color LCD is easy enough to read, and the buttons and menus are well thought-out. You get an on-board wizard as well as WPS (Wi-Fi Protected Setup) for setting up the wireless connection; USB is the other connection choice. The MFP has no USB/PictBridge port, but a front slot lets you print directly from MultiMediaCard, Memory Stick, or SD Card media.
Paper-handling features on the ESP C310 are minimal and manual. The machine offers no automatic document feeder for the letter/A4-size scanner. (For the same price, Canon’s Pixma MX410 provides an ADF.) Duplex printing on a PC or Mac is manual. Paper (up to letter size, no legal) feeds via a 100-sheet vertical tray in the back. One of our few complaints about this obviously light-duty MFP is that the scanner lid doesn’t telescope to accommodate thicker material.
In our tests, the ESP C310’s print speeds were decent for a multifunction printer in this price range: 4.7 pages per minute on the PC for pages that are mostly text with a few simple monochrome graphics, and 3.7 ppm for the same sample printed on the Mac. Photo-printing speeds were average: A snapshot-size image from the PC emerged at a rate of 2 ppm on plain paper and 1.3 ppm on Kodak’s own photo paper. A full-page, high-resolution photo printed on photo paper from the Mac took about 2 minutes. Draft mode doubles output speed, while selecting fine or best mode slows things down considerably–especially with photos.
The ESP C310’s output showed the usual Kodak tendencies on plain paper, exhibiting dark-gray (rather than black) text with feathery edges, and somewhat washed-out images. On Kodak’s own photo paper, however, images looked realistic and smooth. Scanned color images tended to appear a little too dark, but monochrome scans showed some good detail.
Kodak’s ink costs are very low for a $100 printer. The standard-size cartridges include a $10, 335-page black cartridge and an $18, 275-page tricolor cartridge, amounting to about 3 cents per page for black and 6.5 for color. That makes the cost of your average four-color page a mere 9.5 cents. Atypically, the high-capacity cartridges offer little savings: Black costs $20 and lasts 670 pages (3 cents per page), while color costs $34 and lasts 550 pages (6.2 cents per page).
The Kodak ESP C310 is more than adequate for its intent: low-volume, home use. It is easy to use, and good at printing photos, and–unlike most printers in its class–it’s cheap to operate.